The Speakers

Anthony Knowles, Head of National Account Management (North), Apprenticeships Directorate, Education and Skills Funding Agency

Having worked on Apprenticeships for over twenty years Anthony is passionate about the positive economic and social transformation that they deliver. His role is leading a team focussed on providing a dedicated account management service to the largest employers in the North of England. Success is defined by helping businesses build high quality programmes that maximise benefits and return on investment.

Anthony works as part of a senior management team with responsibility for the continuous development and delivery of a highly regarded, customer focussed National Apprenticeship Service.

Bill Adams, Regional Secretary, TUC Yorkshire and Humber

Bill Adams is Regional Secretary of the TUC Yorkshire and Humber and has worked there for the last nineteen years. Before this, Bill worked as a lecturer in law and trade union studies at colleges in Manchester, Leeds, Preston and London.

Whilst at the TUC, Bill sat on the board of Yorkshire Forward, served as a member of the ACAS employee relations forum, and spent seven years as Deputy Chair of his old university. Bill is a board member for a charity in Preston offering life chances for excluded vulnerable school pupils and Chairs the social forum. Recently Bill has been appointed to the board of the Sheffield city region LEP, and as a skills commissioner for Yorkshire and the Humber.

Mayor Dan Jarvis MBE MP, Sheffield City Region

Dan Jarvis was elected the first Mayor of Sheffield City Region in May 2018. He also serves as the MP for Barnsley Central having become the first person since World War Two to resign his military commission in order to contest a Parliamentary by-election.

In Parliament he has served on the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee and the Joint Committee for the National Security Strategy as well as serving as a shadow minister for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Ministry of Justice and in the Shadow foreign affairs team.

As Mayor of the Sheffield City Region he works with the local authority leaders and business leaders from across the Sheffield City Region to drive prosperity and growth for all. As a sitting MP Dan is also able to represent the Sheffield City Region right at the heart of Government.

Hazel Blears, Member Nominated Director, The Co-op

Hazel Blear is the Member Nominated Director of The Co-op. She was a Labour Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2015, representing Salford and Eccles.

Hazel has held a number of senior positions in government including Public Health Minister, Police and Counter Terrorism Minister and Communities Secretary. Hazel also served on the National Intelligence and Security Committee. Her other roles include being Chair of the Social Investment Business Foundation and Chair of the Institute for Dementia at Salford University. Hazel is also an Ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society and a Trustee of the Social Mobility Foundation.

Lynsey Sweeney, Managing Director, Give us a Chance

Lynsey is the Managing Director of Give us a Chance, the national body championing the role of social housing in building communities that work.

She has worked across housing, employment & skills for a decade with GUAC and the National Housing Federation.

Lynsey was a Director at a central London Further Education College, co-founded the first Apprenticeship Training Agency in the UK and consulted for KPMG on their World Class Skills programme. Prior to this, Lynsey worked for VSO in China, Ethiopia and London.

Sarah Weir OBE, CEO, Design Council

Sarah Weir is CEO of Design Council. She was previously Executive Producer at the Roundhouse in London, Chief Executive of Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire and her other past roles include Chief Executive of The Legacy List, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park charity (now called Foundation for Future London); Head of Arts and Cultural Strategy for Olympic Delivery Authority; Executive Director, Arts Council England; London and Executive Director of the Almeida Theatre. She started her career as a broker at Lloyd’s of London and over a 15 year career went from being the office junior to Managing Director, the first woman to hold this position.

Sarah has a History of Art BA from Birkbeck College (1993-7), was awarded an OBE for services to the arts (2011), First Woman Awards for public service (2013) an is a Fellow of Birkbeck College (2013). Sarah also serves on the board of the Alzheimer’s Society.

Henri Murison, Director, Northern Powerhouse Partnership

Henri was appointed last year as the first permanent Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), which has been established by business and civic leaders across the North to drive our economy and is chaired by George Osborne. During the last decade, he has held senior public policy roles in both the public and private sectors across the North of England. He served as Cabinet member for Quality of Life at Newcastle City Council, leading on key issues including transport, planning and the environment. He also worked as Research Director at the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire and, most recently, led on Public Affairs at the Yorkshire Building Society, focusing on issues such as devolution in Yorkshire, housing and transport.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair NP11 & Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership

Roger Marsh has been Chair of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) since 2013 and during that time has led the LEP through a period of significant transformation, including securing the country’s largest ever Local Growth Deal with Government. In partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the LEP – a public, private sector partnership – promotes Leeds City Region on a national and international scale, helping businesses to thrive and creating a strong and successful economy for all who live and work here.

Roger is a member and therefore sits on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Board. He also Chairs the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund Strategic Oversight Board as well as the newly formed NP11 which brings together the Chairs of the 11 Northern LEPs.

Tony Wilson, Director, Institute for Employment Studies

Tony joined IES in October 2018. He has more than fifteen years’ experience of employment research, policy and programme management. Tony has particular expertise in the design, delivery and evaluation of employment and skills programmes; supporting organisations to understand and apply evidence of ‘what works’; devolution and service integration; labour market analysis and leading complex programmes.

Prior to joining IES, Tony was Director of Policy and Research at the Learning and Work Institute. In recent years, he has led a wide range of research programmes including around disability employment; pay and progression; employment and skills devolution; work and health trial design; and employment service reform.

Angela Foulkes, Chief Executive and Principal, Sheffield City College

Angela has been the Chief Executive and Principal of The Sheffield College since May 2018. Angela has worked in Further Education Colleges for 25 years; she worked in a variety of Colleges in London for the first 15 years of her career. Angela moved to South Yorkshire in 2008 to take up a Vice Principal post at Barnsley College where she was very proud to be part of the leadership team that delivered an outstanding Ofsted outcome. Angela also held a Vice Principal post at The Manchester College.

Angela holds a number of trustee roles including at the Sheffield UTC, with Sheffield Futures and also the Skills and Education Group. She is also a Patron of the National Centre for Diversity and a Governor for The Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Luke Raikes, Senior Research Fellow, IPPR North

Luke is a Senior Research Fellow at IPPR North where he leads on their economy and transport research. He has published a range of influential papers on the regional economies of the UK, industrial strategy, the North, transport and devolution.

Before joining IPPR North, Luke worked for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority where he conducted research into the city region’s economy, as well as various elements of cities policy and economic development.

Lorna Fitzsimons, Co-Founder, The Pipeline

Lorna Fitzsimons is a trusted advisor to blue chip companies and Whitehall on gender diversity and developing executive female talent. She is also a Board member of the UK Fashion Textiles Association (UKFT) and the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, as well as an AON Ambassador and a Trustee of the education charity, SHINE. Lorna is deeply committed to unlocking women’s potential at the top of corporate Britain and realising growth in the Northern Powerhouse.

Lorna was the Founder and Director of The Alliance Project, a £150m public-private partnership to bring back textile manufacturing to the UK, and CEO at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM). She turned BICOM into an internationally renowned centre of excellence. She was also a visiting Fellow at the Defence Academy’s Advanced Research and Assessment Group, and a former Member of Parliament.

Councillor Julie Dore, Leader, Sheffield City Council

Councillor Julie Dore was elected as a Councillor in 2000 and elected Leader of Sheffield City Council in 2011. Her many roles within the Council include: Chairing the Council’s Cabinet, Member of Sheffield City Region Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership, and Member of the Sheffield Partnership Board. Her external roles include: Member of the Core Cities Cabinet, Director of Rail North, and Member of Transport for the North Board.

Julie previously was a Quantity Surveyor/Estimator working for a social housing association for over 20 years and prior to that in the construction industry for 10 years. She was also on the Management Boards of a domestic violence refuge, homeless accommodation for young people, and a drug rehabilitation centre.  Julie was also a school governor for over 15 years.


Alastair Da Costa, Commissioner, Social Mobility Commission

Alastair Da Costa has over 20 years of international board and executive level leadership experience growing teams across a number of sectors. Alastair is Chair of Capital City College Group which he led through mergers in 2016 and 2017 to create one of the largest further education college groups in the country providing for over 37,000 students and near 4,000 apprentices, and he is a non-executive board and council member of The London School of Economics.

Alastair is a qualified solicitor and a board adviser at HGF Group; he also spent many years in senior international leadership roles with DLA Piper where he was a global board and executive member. Alastair has also served as a senior executive and non-executive on the boards of professional service consultancy businesses, charities and other educational institutions. Alastair joined the Social Mobility Commission as a new Commissioner in November 2018.

Greg Wright, Deputy Business Editor, The Yorkshire Post

Greg is an award-winning journalist who has worked for daily and weekly newspapers, regional magazines, the UK’s national news agency and a pioneering news website which earned a place in The Guinness Book of Records. Greg has won 15 business journalism awards. Greg ranked at 158 in Richtopia’s list of the top 250 business journalists in the world and also supplied content for the national newspaper, the i, which is part of JPI Media. Yorkshire Post business editor Mark Casci said: “Greg is one of the finest journalists I have worked with in my career. He embodies the spirit of investigative journalism which The Yorkshire Post has been synonymous with for decades.”

Kevin Hollinrake MP, the co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking, described me as “one of a small number of journalists who have continually highlighted banking scandals and the need for truth and redress”. My role as The Yorkshire Post’s deputy business editor has given me the opportunity to chair a wide range of political debates and business seminars with celebrities including Sir Clive Woodward.